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MARYLAND'S ADOPTION OF THE FEDERAL 
CONSTITUTION 

II. 

The Maryland convention met in Annapolis, 1 on Monday, April 
21. It consisted of seventy-six members, of whom two never sat 
on account of sickness. They were both Federalists. Only three 
counties, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford, sent Anti-Federal 
delegations, though a number of the Federal members voted with 
the minority from time to time, in a spirit of compromise. Most of 
the Eastern Shore delegates were absent on the first day of the con- 
vention, while some of the Baltimore and Harford County men did 
not arrive until Thursday, April 24. 

The assembly was a representative and able one. The small 
Anti-Federalist minority had among its numbers two delegates to 
the Philadelphia Convention, Mercer and Martin ; Samuel Chase, 
" the flame of fire" who signed the Declaration of Independence ; 
his able kinsman, Jeremiah T. Chase ; William Paca, another signer 
of the Declaration of Independence, and an able statesman ; and 
William Pinkney, who became so famous as a lawyer and an orator. 
The Federalists were no less ably led by "Aristides," Alexander 
Contee Hanson, who was one of the best of Maryland lawyers ; 
James McHenry, who was to become Washington's Secretary of 
War; Col. William Richardson, Robert Goldsborough, William 
Hemsley, Col. Edward Lloyd, and Peter Chaille, from the Eastern 
Shore ; and by Col. Moses Rawlings, of Revolutionary fame, 
Richard Potts, formerly a member of the Continental Congress, 
Thomas Johnson, the first governor of the state, and Thomas Sim 
Lee, who was one of his successors, from Western Maryland. 2 

'The proceedings of the convention are printed in the Documentary History of the 
Constitution (issued by the Department of State), II. 97-122. The address of the minority 
is printed in Elliot's Debates on the Federal Constitution, II. 547-556. It is entitled 
"A Fragment of Facts, disclosing the conduct of the Maryland Convention, on the adop- 
tion of the Federal Constitution." The address of the majority was prepared by A. C. 
Hanson ("Aristides " ) but was never published. It is in manuscript among the Madison 
papers in the Department of State at Washington. The Maryland Historical Society's 
files of the Annapolis Gazette for April 24 and May 1, 8, 15, 22 ; of the Baltimore 
Gazette for April 29, and of the Maryland Jotirnal for April 29 and May 2 contain valu- 
able information relative to the convention. 

1 Daniel Carroll, writing to Madison on May 28, 1788, said that the members of 
the convention were men of abilities and fairness of character and that Chase had said 
that their weight in the community was enough to carry the government. 

(207) 



2o8 B. C. Steiner 

The convention organized by the unanimous choice of George 
Plater of St. Mary's County as president, and by electing a clerk, 
assistant clerk, messenger, and door-keeper. A committee of elec- 
tions was appointed, consisting of Messrs. Johnson, Barnes, J. T. 
Chase, Done, and Faw, 1 four of whom were Federalists. After 
resolving to sit from 9 A. M. to 3 P. M. each day, " for considering 
the proposed plan of Federal Government," the convention ad- 
journed. On Tuesday, the committee of elections made a report, 
which was accepted, apparently without dispute. A simple code of 
rules was adopted. The sessions shall be open. Members must be 
present, within half an hour of the time of opening the sessions. 
The minutes of the preceding day shall be read at the beginning of 
each day's session. Members shall be referred to in debate by 
name. Questions of order shall be decided by the president with- 
out debate, but he may refer the questions to the house, which shall 
decide also without debate. "No member speaking shall be inter- 
rupted, but by a call to order by the President, or by a member 
through the President." The president shall put any motion which 
has been made and seconded, and either he, or any other two mem- 
bers, may require a motion to be reduced to writing. A member 
offering a motion may withdraw it, at any time before a vote is 
taken. Such were the simple rules, under which the convention 
acted. 

As most of the members were now on hand and the organization 
was perfected, the convention settled down to serious business. 
The "proposed plan of Federal Government for the United States " 
was read the first time. Before the convention met, the Federal 
majority had held a caucus and agreed " that they and their con- 
stituents had enjoyed abundant leisure and opportunity for consider- 
ing the proposed system of a Federal government, that it was not 
probable any new lights could be thrown on the subject, that (even 
if it were) the main question had already, in effect, been decided by 
the people in the respective counties, that, as each delegate was 
under a sacred obligation to vote conformably to the sentiments of 
his constituents, they ought to complete that single transaction for 
which they were convened, as speedily as was consistent with 
decorum. A prompt determination in this State, they conceived, 
might have a happy influence in other States and they expressed a 
desire that all argument in favor of an indispensable measure might 
be omitted. In short they esteemed nothing wanting except the 
mere forms of a ratification." In conformity to these ideas, every 
proposition to bring about discussion by parts was rejected. The 



Maryland's Adoption of the Federal Constitution 209 

majority felt that their power was too limited and the crisis was too 
dangerous to permit the separate provisions of the Constitution to 
be considered by the convention. Virginia, where the battle was 
close, waited for their verdict. So, after the first reading of the 
Constitution, the convention resolved that it would " not enter into 
any Resolution upon any Particular Part of the proposed plan of 
Federal Government for the United States : But that the whole 
thereof shall be read the second time, after which the Subject may 
be fully debated and considered." It was " clearly understood " 
that on the "grand question," each member " might be free to 
speak, as often as he should think proper." The majority main- 
tained that they showed no undue haste ; most of the week was 
spent in waiting for the absent minority members, some of whom 
did not come until Thursday, or " in most patient attention to objec- 
tions which were familiar to almost every auditor." 

After the debate, it was decided, the president should " put the 
question that this Convention do assent to and ratify " the Consti- 
tution, on which question the yeas and nays should be taken. The 
convention then read the Constitution for the second time and ad- 
journed. 1 

On Thursday morning, the debate began and Samuel Chase came 
to the convention. His presence added fresh life to the minority. 
On May 2, Washington wrote to Madison 2 that he had learned 
that Mr. Chase " made a display of all his eloquence. Mr. Mercer 
discharged his whole artillery of inflammable matter and Mr. Mar- 
tin did something, I know not what, but presume with vehemence, 
yet no converts were made — no not one." The majority relied on 
their numbers and took little part in the argument. They felt that 
no valuable purpose could be answered by protracting the mere 
formality of a ratification and so " remained silent to the argu- 
ments of the minority." After Chase had spoken a while, 3 he 

'On Tuesday, we learn from the minority's address, the following proposed rules of 
order had been rejected by the convention : " When a motion is made and seconded, the 
matter of the motion shall receive a determination by the question, or be postponed, by 
general consent, or the previous question, before any other motion shall be received ;" 
and "Every question shall be entered on the journal ; and the yeas and nays maybe 
called for, by any member, on any question, and the name of the member requiring them 
shall be entered on the journal." 

2 Writings, XI. 259. [Mr. Ford prints " comments" in the passage next quoted ; 
but Mr. Bancroft, Constitution, II. 467, has "converts," and so has the catalogue of 
the McGuire sale, p. 41 ; " converts " seems the more likely reading. Ed. ] 

3 Bancroft, History of the Constitution, II. 282, quotes from Chase's MSS. notes: 
" The powers to be vested in the new government are deadly to the cause of liberty and 
should be amended before adoption. Five States can now force a concession of amend- 
ments, which, after the national government shall go into operation, could be carried only 
by nine." 



2 i o B. C. Steincr 

sat down, declaring that " he was exhausted and would resume 
his argument on the following day." 

The hour of adjournment had not come and the convention 
waited for some other speaker. None arose, however, and, after 
waiting a " competent time," the convention adjourned until after 
dinner, that, by another meeting on that day, "further procrasti- 
nation" might be prevented. Should the minority not "proceed 
with their objections," the majority intended to have "the business 
concluded immediately." They maintained that, although it was 
"proper to give each member an opportunity to declare his senti- 
ments," it " could not be expected that the whole body should 
await the pleasure of a few individuals." 

When the convention came together again at 4:30 P. M., Wil- 
liam Paca arrived and took his seat. He rose and said "that he 
had a variety of great objections to the Constitution in its present 
form, and that, although he did not expect amendments to be made 
the condition of ratification, he wished them to accompany it, as 
standing instructions to our representatives in Congress ; that under 
an expectation of obtaining amendments, he might vote for the 
Constitution ; that having just arrived, he was not ready to lay his 
amendments before the House, but asked for permission to prepare 
his propositions and, in the morning, lay them on the table for con- 
sideration of the members ; that he wished the amendments to be 
considered before the ratification, because he did not imagine that 
after it the convention would remain a sufficient length of time." 

The amiable Johnson arose at once and said " that the request 
was candid and reasonable and that the gentleman ought to be in- 
dulged. In order that nothing further might be done he moved to 
adjourn till the morning." This was done at once. The Federalists 
maintained that the adjournment was only to be taken as implying 
that they were willing to " give time for reflexion on Paca's pro- 
posal." 

On Friday morning, Paca rose and informed the president "that, 
in consequence of the permission of the house given him the pre- 
ceding evening, he had prepared certain amendments 1 which he 
would read in his place and then lay on the table." At this Paca 
was interrupted by George Gale of Somerset County, who had 
not been present on the preceding afternoon and who supposed 
Paca to be out of order. Technically he was out of order, as the 
question was " that this Convention do assent to and ratify the pro- 
posed Constitution." Paca remonstrated warmly against the inde- 
cency wherewith he alleged that he had been treated, but could not 



Maryland 's Adoption of the Federal Constitution 2 1 1 

point to any express permission to introduce amendments. One 
after another, members from each of eleven counties, 1 and from each 
of the two municipalities rose and declared for themselves and their 
colleagues that they " were under an obligation to vote for the gov- 
ernment." The form of words varied, but the thought was the 
same. Several added that they were to ratify, as soon as possible,- 
and do no other act, and that after ratification their power ceased. 
As to amendments, almost all declared that " they considered 
themselves as having no authority to propose, in behalf of their 
constituents, that which their constituents had never considered 
and concerning which their constituents could of course have 
given no directions." Paca's amendments having been refused, the 
minority continued to state their objections until Saturday after- 
noon. The majority were " repeatedly called on and earnestly re- 
quested to answer the objections, if not just," but they " remained 
inflexibly silent." They defended their silence, by saying that 
they were instructed to vote for the Constitution and that the mi- 
nority was equally instructed to vote against it. Both were bound 
by their relation to their constituents and it was " hardly probable 
that at this late period any argument contained in a public ha- 
rangue could have flashed conviction on the minds of the minority." 

When the vote for ratification was taken, the house stood 63 to- 
11. In the negative were all the delegates from Anne Arundel,. 
Baltimore and Harford counties, except Paca, who was true to his 
previously expressed purpose and voted aye. On Monday, the 
same sixty-three delegates who had voted in the affirmative, signed 
the following ratification : " We the Delegates of the people of the 
State of Maryland having fully considered the Constitution of the 
United States of America reported to Congress by the Convention 
of Deputies from the United States of America held in Philadelphia- 
on the seventeenth Day of September in the Year Seventeen hun- 
dred and eighty seven of which the annexed is a Copy and sub- 
mitted to us by a Resolution of the General Assembly of Maryland 
in November Session Seventeen hundred and eighty seven do for 
ourselves and in the Name and on the behalf of the People of this 
State assent to and ratify the said Constitution." 

The Federalists declared that, in the convention, the " greatest 
Dignity as well as Decorum was exhibited. . . . The Minority 
was heard with candid and profound attention. Their Talents and 

1 Frederick, Talbot, Charles, Kent, Somerset, Prince George's, Worcester, Queen. 
Anne's, Dorchester, Calvert, and Caroline. Vide Annapolis Gazette, May 8. The dele- 
gate from that city did not say that Annapolis was against amendments, but that the 
matter had not been submitted to the people and therefore the city delegates had no right 
to act in the matter. 



2 12 B. C. Steiner 

Abilities were amply displayed and, but from the clearest Impres- 
sions of the best of Causes, they might have been more successful." 
The Journal rises to a most stupendous height of bombast: " Mary- 
land independent in her Resources — superior by the Excellence of 
her political and civil Institutions to the Rage of internal Commo- 
tion — Maryland the informed, the benevolent, and the wise, who 
can bestow Advantages without an Equivalent but in the Conscious- 
ness of advancing Public Felicity, has opened her Bosom to the 
Embraces of her sister States, has erected the Seventh Pillar upon 
which will be reared the glorious Fabric of American Greatness, in 
which Fabric the Rights of Mankind will be concentered as to their 
native Home. O, May the happy Moment soon arrive, when the 
august Temple of Freedom shall be supported by thirteen Pillars, 
with its gates unfolded to every Part of Creation, may its Duration 
be as permanent as Time and its Period engulphed only in the 
Bosom of Eternity." 

After the vote to ratify, on Saturday afternoon, Paca rose and 
again proposed his amendments, declaring " that he had only given 
his assent to the government, under the firm persuasion and in full 
confidence that such amendments would be peaceably obtained, so 
as to enable the people to live happily under the government, that 
the people of the county he represented (and that he himself) would 
support the government with such amendments, but without them 
his constituents would firmly oppose it, he believed even with arms." 

The majority " did not deem the proposed amendments neces- 
sary to perfect the constitution," but some of them thought that 
though, in their conventional capacity, they could not propose 
amendments in behalf of the people, they might, in their private 
capacities, gratify the wishes of the minority and make certain 
propositions to the people. " Aristides " thought this " novel dis- 
tinction" between the convention, " acting in virtue of its delegated 
powers," and its members as a body, " acting agreeably to the com- 
mon right of citizens," was a false one, but it " was admitted with- 
out reflexion," after a " short and perplexed debate." He argued 
that, until the convention dissolved, the members would not act nor 
" be supposed acting in their private character, and that any propo- 
sition to go from them as private individuals, should be made after 
dissolution of the body." The convention, however, did not per- 
ceive the entanglement into which they were falling and passed the 
following resolution, by a vote of sixty-six to seven : " Resolved 
that a committee be appointed to take into consideration and report 
to this house on Monday morning next, a draught of such amend- 
ments and alterations, as may be thought necessary in the proposed 



Maryland's Adoption of the Federal Constitution 2 1 3 

Constitution for the United States, to be recommended to the con- 
sideration of the people of this State, if approved of by this Con- 
vention." Thirteen members were placed on the committee. Of 
these Thomas Johnson, Thomas Sim Lee, and Richard Potts from 
Frederick County, Robert Goldsborough from Dorchester, James 
Tilghman from Queen Anne's, Alexander C. Hanson from An- 
napolis, William Tilghman from Kent, James McHenry from Balti- 
more Town, and George Gale from Somerset were Federalists ; 
while William Paca from Harford, and Samuel Chase, Jeremiah T. 
Chase and John Francis Mercer from Anne Arundel were Anti- 
Federalists. When we consider the small number of the minority, 
we perceive that they were not treated ungenerously in forming the 
committee. We may also note, that no heed was paid to county 
delegations in forming it. 

Paca's proposed amendments were referred to the committee, and 
the convention adjourned until Monday. It seems that this plan of 
proposing amendments to the people was favored by some amiable 
Federalists like Johnson, who " imagined all opposition in Maryland 
would cease thereby." That Saturday evening Hanson was busy. 
He thought that no amendments were necessary and that the con- 
vention had been thrown into embarrassment. He saw the other 
Federal members of the committee and they mutually " communi- 
cated to each other their ideas and considered the necessity of ac- 
commodating themselves to a disagreeable situation; resulting from 
an earnest and perhaps unparalleled disposition in a great represen- 
tative body to gratify and conciliate a few men opposed to the gen- 
eral sense of the State. They thought nothing contained in the 
propositions to the people should hold out any idea of the propriety 
of changing the Constitution in any essential part, although they 
might go so far as to explain it agreeably to what its friends thought 
was the true construction and to restrain Congress from doing, 
what on a true construction it has no power to do, or which if it 
had, its own policy would not permit it to perform. They hoped 
that, by going thus far, the Convention would be extricated from its 
embarrassment and, perhaps, the enemies of government would de- 
sist from their opposition." 

On Sunday morning, the committee met and considered Paca's 
amendments. After two of the propositions had been approved, 
Hanson 1 said, " As they had met on a principle of conciliation, he 
wished, before they went further, an explanation might take place, 
as there had been doubts entertained from general expressions in 

• He does not name himself, but I think his narrative shows clearly that he was the 



214 B- C. Sterner 

the plan of government, which were supposed by some men to give 
Congress discretionary powers, and as some explanation of these 
might tend to quiet apprehensions, he should probably agree to 
such amendments, as might have that effect without endangering the 
Constitution, provided they should go forth as the act of private in- 
dividuals and provided no others be attempted, than should be 
agreed to in this Committee. He wished it to be understood that 
he should agree to no more than the two already acceded to, except 
sub modo." No direct answer was made to this and Hanson voted 
against all subsequent amendments. Chase stated that " the com- 
mittee ought to proceed and endeavor to agree to the amendments 
which the Constitution requires and that, if they could not agree, 
each man would be at liberty to take in the convention, or any 
other place, the part he might think proper." But Hanson thought 
it was the wish of all to report something, which all might maintain 
in convention. On Monday morning, the committee met again and 
found that they had agreed to report thirteen amendments based on 
Paca's, and that they had rejected fifteen more. The majority now 
insisted that, if they should support the thirteen amendments agreed 
to, "both in their public and private characters, until they should 
become a part of the general goverriment," the minority should lay 
before the convention no amendments, "except those the Committee 
had so agreed to." The minority agreed to do this and to "give 
all their assistance to carry into execution " the new government, if 
the committee would add to the thirteen amendments three more, 
which they had previously rejected. These three amendments pro- 
vided that the militia, without the consent of the state authorities, or 
unless selected by lot, or voluntarily enlisted, should not be marched 
beyond the limits of an adjoining state ; that Congress might not 
interfere in elections of its members, unless a state should fail to 
provide for them ; that a state might pay in a lump sum, within a 
limited time after the levy, direct taxes levied on its citizens. If the 
committee would not approve these three propositions, they desired 
to take the sense of the convention upon them and would hold 
themselves bound by the decision of that body. The committee 
refused to accept the three propositions, by a vote of eight to five, 
Johnson voting with the four Anti- Federalists. 1 

One of the majority, probably Hanson, had brought in to the 
committee an address to the convention, to be prefixed to whatever 
amendments might be proposed. 2 It stated that the authority of 

1 He had prepared and submitted it to the majority before the Sunday meeting. 

2 All these amendments are to be found in Elliot's Debates, II. 550-553- l' ,e 
three which the minority especially urged read as follows : 

I. That the militia, unless selected by 'o'., or voluntarily enlisted, shall not be 



Maryland'- 's Adoption of the Federal Constitution 215 

the convention had expired with the ratification ; but, " as it is es- 
sential to the proper administration of government, that it possess 
the approbation of every part of the community," the members have 
brought in propositions, " which may tend to quiet the apprehen- 
sions of those who think additional security is needed." They hold 
themselves "incompetent, till there had been experience of the 
operation and the inconveniences, to ascertain the defects with pre- 
cision and certainty and they knew not what would please their 
constituents." They moreover do not agree concerning the altera- 
tions, and therefore do not give a decided opinion upon any of them, 
but point the " serious attention and mature deliberation " of the 
convention to this subject. If any alterations should suit the con- 
vention, the committee wish that the former body would put them 
"in constitutional train to make them part of the Constitution." 
No one objected to an address, but Chase said that, although he 
objected to a part of this and it was not regular, yet it was a matter 
of little importance, provided it should be so worded as to give no 
offence and cast no reflection. After the rejection of the three 
propositions, which seem to have been their ultimatum, the minority 
objected to the address, " as no such matter had been referred." 
The chairman of the committee, who was Paca himself, suggested 
that the committee might return to the house and apply for authority, 
when they reported their approval of the thirteen amendments. 
The majority feared that this would defeat their purpose of making 
the propositions merely for the consideration of the people, without 
giving the weight of the convention's opinion in behalf of them as 
necessary, save for conciliation. Consequently, nothing was done 
in the matter. 

Some of the majority now said " that, in acceding to any propo- 
sitions which had been made, they had constantly kept in view the 
address, which was to accompany them, for the purpose of explain- 
ing that they were submitted on the principle of accommodation and 
with a view to quieting apprehension, and that they never once con- 
ceived amendments necessary to perfect the plan of Government and 
that they would not have voted for amendments to be held out in 
that light." 

marched beyond the limits of an adjoining state, without the consent of their legislature 
or executive. 

2. That the Congress shall have no power to alter or change the time, place, or 
manner of holding elections for Senators or Representatives, unless a state shall neglect 
to make regulations, or to execute its regulations, or shall be prevented by invasion or 
rebellion ; in which cases, only, Congress may interfere, until the cause be removed. 

3. That, in every law of Congress imposing direct taxes, the collection thereof shall 
be suspended for a certain reasonable time, therein limited ; and on payment of the sum 
by any state, by the time appointed, such taxes shall not be collected. 

VOL. V. — 15 



2 1 6 B.C. Steiner 

The minority insisted that, " as the Committee had agreed to a 
number of propositions," they ought to be signed and reported. 
To this the majority replied, that " if any member had voted on a 
misconception of the footing on which the propositions were to go to 
the people, he should, on finding his mistake, have an opportunity 
of retracting and the propositions ought to be reconsidered. . . . 
After going through them one by one, it was proper to take a vote 
upon the whole together. The committee did not before seem fully 
to comprehend each other. On the principle of accommodation, 
the expedient of submitting propositions to the people might be 
proper, providing that an accommodation did really take place. A 
great deal of mischief might result if, after both sides had agreed to 
certain propositions on that principle, other propositions were to be 
made on which men would be divided. If after the committee had 
concluded, the convention were to go on without hesitation, to con- 
sider amendments to every part of the Constitution, nothing but 
confusion could follow, and it would be far preferable to abandon 
the scheme of accommodation and make no report." Chase then 
said, positively, that " he should think himself at liberty to propose 
to the Convention whatever he might esteem proper, in addition to 
the report, and to oppose anything it might contain." 

While this argument was proceeding, the convention was grow- 
ing impatient. 1 A resolution was adopted " that the Proceedings of 
this Convention to the Vote for assenting to and ratifying the pro- 
posed Plan of Federal Government for the United States and the 
Yeas and Nays be fairly engrossed, signed by the President and at- 
tested by the Clerk and Assistant Clerk, and that the President 
request the Governor and Council to transmit the same Proceed- 
ings, together with the ratification of the same Federal Government, 
subscribed by the Members of this Convention, to the United 
States in Congress assembled." 2 It is clear that this motion was 
passed so that any amendments, which might be reported by the 
committee and adopted by the convention, should not be reported 
to Congress, or the other states, but to the people of Maryland 
alone. The minority appear to have made no opposition to this mo- 
tion, which agreed with the general understanding of the members. 

They repeatedly called on the committee to return, and that 
body, finding it impossible to come to an agreement, finally rose, 
without a final vote being taken by the chairman. On returning to 

1 A motion was made but seemingly not passed " to consider of no propositions for 
amendment of the federal government, except such as shall be submitted to them by the 
Committee." Elliot's Debates, II. 554. 

2 This is why the record in Documentary History of the Constitution stops short of 
the final adjournment. Maryland Journal, May 2 ; Gazette, May 24, 178S. 



Maryland' s Adoption of the Federal Constitution 217 

the convention, Paca, as chairman, stated what had passed, read the 
thirteen amendments which had been adopted, and the three which 
had been the minority's ultimatum, and "assigned the reason why 
no report had been formally made. Though they had acceded to 
some of the propositions referred to them, nevertheless they could 
come to no agreement as to making a report." 

There seems to have been some debate on the matter. 1 One of 
the majority of the committee is stated to have said : " If no amend- 
ments were referred to the people, their idea would be that the 
Constitution was perfect in the opinion of the Convention and, there- 
fore, needed no amendment. The proposal to submit amendments 
was only admitted to conciliate the minority, but it might involve 
the convention from one amendment to another, not knowing where 
to stop. . . . They had agreed to decide on the whole Con- 
stitution, not upon its parts, and, if they agreed to a number of 
amendments, the opponents of the government would gain an ad- 
vantage, by being able to represent that its friends admitted it needed 
amendments and was greatly defective." 2 The people of Mary- 
land would think that the convention ought not to have ratified 
without condition, or previous adoption of amendment, and the fed- 
eral forces in Virginia and the other close states would be weakened 
by this example of Maryland. The debate did not last long, how- 
ever, for the majority were determined and would permit no delay. 
A vote of thanks to President Plater had been read once, while the 
committee was out, and a delegate now rose and moved to give 
this motion a second reading. The minority called for the previous 
question and asked that the yeas and nays be taken. The conven- 
tion rejected both motions and passed the vote of thanks. 

A motion was then carried "that the Convention adjourn with- 
out day " and the struggle was over. On this last motion, the vote 
was 47 to 27. The minority voted solidly against it and fifteen of 
the majority joined with them, but the predominance of the Fed- 
eralists was so great, that they won easily, in spite of this defection. 
Daniel Carroll summed up the whole story in one sentence : 3 " Mr. 
Johnson's Accommodating disposition and respect to his character 
led the majority into a situation, out of which they found some diffi- 
culty in extricating themselves." Alexander Contee Hanson, prob- 
ably, was the chief mover in the majority's final policy. The op- 
position was so entirely led by its able members from Anne Arundel 

1 Annapolis Gazette, May 15 ; Baltimore Gazette, May 13, 1788. 

2 Bancroft, History of the Constitution, II. 282, says that McHenry wrote Washing- 
ton that the amendments were adapted to injure the cause of Federalism in Virginia. 

3 Letter to Madison, May 28, 1788. 



218 B. C. Steiner 

County, that Daniel Carroll is almost correct in writing, l that : " If 
the Anne Arundel election had not taken the extraordinary turn it 
did, I may say there would not have been a straw of opposition, 
perhaps adoption would have been unanimous." 

There was great rejoicing in the Federal camp over Maryland's 
action. The friends of the Constitution hastened to inform their 
friends in other states. 2 A great illumination 3 and firing of cannon 
took place that Monday evening in Annapolis. A ball was given 
at the Assembly Room and a dinner at Mann's tavern, at which 
nearly two hundred persons were present. Thirteen cannon were 
fired at each of the thirteen toasts. The capital had sent to the 
convention the protagonist of the victorious forces 4 and rejoiced in 
their victory. 5 In Baltimore town, the joy was equally great. 6 
The Gazette had an editorial — an unusual thing — on the ratification, 
warmly commending it and saying : " Thus by the assent and rati- 
fication of this State, there is now the fairest prospect that the 
Federal Government will be established in America." On May i, 
there was a great procession through the streets. It was estimated 
that three thousand men were there, the trades' display was large, 
and in the line was Joshua Barney with the mimic ship Federalist. 
This vessel is thus described : " Being the seventh ship in the line 
and having weathered the most dangerous cape in the voyage, she 
lay to under seven sails, during the repast on Federal Hill, throw- 
ing out signals and expecting the arrival of the other six." The 
procession formed at Philpott's Hill, adjoining the Play-house, 
passed through Fell's Point and then, by way of Hanover Street,, 
arrived at Federal Hill, where a dinner was served and thirteen 
toasts 7 drunk. At night there was an illumination and a ball.. 

1 Letter to Madison, April 28, 1788. 

2 Carroll to Madison, April 28, 1788. 

3 The Federal members of the convention each contributed a guinea for this purpose 
* Maryland Journal, May 21 ; Annapolis Gazette, May I, 1788. 

5 The list of toasts is interesting : I . The United States and Congress ; 2. Louis 
XVI. and the Friendly Powers of Europe ; 3. The State of Maryland and the Present 
Convention; 4. The Late Federal Convention ; 5. General Washington (his portrait was 
exhibited and received with a general burst of applause ) ; 6. Marquis LaFayette ; J. The 
Memory of the Brave Officers and Soldiers who Fell in the Revolution ; 8. May Agricul- 
ture, Manufactures and Commerce Flourish in the United States ; 9. Success to Useful 
Learning and Arts and Science ; 10. The Late American Army and Navy; 11. Count 
Rochambeau and the French Army in America ; 12. May our Public Councils be Act- 
uated by Wisdom and Patriotism ; 13. May all States Join Heartily in Federal Govern- 
ment. 

6 Gazette, May 6, 28. Journal, May 6. A note in the Journal calls attention to- 
the fact that the aggregate vote in the seven state conventions is 760 to 240, or two- 
thirds, and that the seven states which have ratified contain 1,467,000 taxable and repre- 
sentable inhabitants. 

'The eighth was to the " Virtuous Sixty-three," who signed the ratification. 



Maryland's Adoption of the Federal Constitution 219 

The popular interest in the celebration was such that an account of 
it was printed in two successive numbers of the Journal to supply 
the demand. 

On May 6, four hundred people of Dorchester County ' met at 
Cambridge, "to congratulate each other on the accession of Mary- 
land to the new federal constitution and testify to their countrymen 
their approbation of the conduct of their delegates in the Conven- 
tion." There were the usual firing of cannon and dinner, which 
was " free from riotous and disorderly disposition." In the evening, 
the "streets were crowded with admiring spectators" to see the 
illumination, the town being " in a perfect blaze with the lustre and 
brilliancy of the light." 2 

Other celebrations may have occurred, of which there is no 
record, ' and I feel sure that the general sentiment of the people was 
voiced by the Baltimore Gazette :' " The general unanimity of the 
people of this State on the late important and interesting political 
question, together with the unanimity of our convention, is a most 
conclusive proof of their federalism. This agreement in sentiment 
was not the consequence of an hasty and partial investigation of the 
subject, but the result of mature deliberation. All the necessary 
information was had to give the general government a fair trial and 
in no instance has the State been less divided than in its adoption. 
The unanimity in the Convention suppressed the necessity of debate 
and upon a moderate computation has saved to the public the sum 
of £4000. " 

Outside of the state, the joy of the Federalists was equally 
great. In the South Carolina convention, a member rose and said 
he had opposed the Constitution, but would now vote for it, since the 
voice of Maryland had been decisive for its adoption. 5 Washington 
wrote to Madison that Maryland's decision was a thorn " in the 
sides of the leaders of opposition " in Virginia, and that Maryland's 
"very short session will, if I mistake not, render yours less tire- 



1 Journal, May 16, 1788. Col. John Eccleston was president of the day. 

2 The thirteen toasts here were : "I. The United States ; 2. Maryland and the Con- 
vention; 3. George Washington ; 4. The Memory of Greene ; 5> I.aFayette ; 6. Memory of 
Fallen Officers and Troops ; 7. The Philadelphia Convention ; 8. The Minority of 
Massachusetts; 9. States that have ratified ; 10. A speedy and compleat ratification ; II. 
Farmers, Mechanics and all virtuous citizens of America ; 12. Faithful and punctual 
Compliances with all public and private contracts ; 13. May wisdom, justice and prudence 
direct all our councils." 

3 Maryland Journal, May 30, 1788. 
<May 9, 1788. 

6 Maryland Journal, June 6, 1788. 

6 May 2, 1788. Writings, XI. 259. Apparently no member of the Maryland con- 
vention favored a consultation with Virginia prior to ratification. Bancroft's History of 
the Constitution, II. 281. 



220 B. C. Sterner 

The minority of Anti-Federalists were not yet silenced. On 
May 6, they published in the newspapers that address to the people 
of Maryland, ' which is reprinted in Elliot's Debates and is the best 
known record of the convention's proceedings. In this address are 
found the proposed amendments. These were published, that the 
people " may express your sense as to such alterations as you may 
think proper to be made in the new Constitution." The minority 
remain persuaded of the importance of the alterations proposed. 
They " consider the proposed form of national government as very 
defective and that the liberty and happiness of the people will be 
endangered, if the system be not greatly changed and altered." It 
is significant, however, that not one of the fifteen Federalists who 
voted with the minority on the final motion to adjourn, is found 
among the signers of this paper. 

On May 9, the papers 2 contain the announcement that the ad- 
dress of the minority misstated some facts and omitted others and 
that an answer from the majority will soon appear. The conven- 
tion came together " without any other avowed object or wish, than 
to adopt the constitution without delay and then retire peaceably to 
their homes." This address was prepared by Hanson, but was 
never published. By the time that it was ready, the committee was 
scattered and apparently it was never shown to the other members 
of the majority. Hanson declared that it was prepared from a 
draught taken from the minutes the day after the convention ad- 
journed, by three members of the majority in the committee, and 
approved as true by two more of them. In the preparation of it, 
Hanson was delayed by sickness and, as it was never printed, it 
would probably have been destroyed, had not Daniel Carroll heard 
of Hanson's work and asked that a copy of it be sent to Madison.* 
This was done by Hanson, not that it might be published, but that 
it might be used, in " giving spirits to the friends of good govern- 
ment, or by discouraging its enemies, who may look for countenance 
and support from the people of Maryland." Virginia was in the 
midst of her great struggle and Hanson thought that perhaps it might 
be suggested there by the Anti-Federalists, "that the people of 
Maryland are dissatisfied and will join Virginia in a plausible scheme 

1 Paca signed it, and the other eleven Anti- Federalists. 

2 In the Baltimore Gazette for May 2, 9, 20 and 23, and June 6, 13 and 20 are long 
articles on the Constitution by " Fabius. " On May 9 an Anti-Federal article is copied 
from a New Hampshire paper. On May 26 and 30 two Federal articles advising Vir- 
ginia to ratify appear in the Gazette. On July II "Wessex" sends an Anti-Federal 
article. In the Journal for May 6, 13, and June 13 are minor articles. 

3 It is now among the Madison papers in the Department of State at Washington, 
where I consulted it. Hanson's letter is dated June 2, 1788. I desire to express my 
sense of gratitude to Mr. S. M. Hamilton of that Department for his courtesy. 



Maryland's Adoption of the Federal Constitution 221 

for a second general convention to propose an entire new plan, or 
propose alterations." "Such a suggestion," Hanson wrote, "would 
be destitute of rational grounds" and the people of Maryland would 
" spurn at a proposition, calculated to produce so much incurable 
mischief." They consider "their political salvation depends" on 
the Constitution's success. " All that the Maryland Conven- 
tion might be ashamed of, would be that it manifested a transient 
inclination to adopt improper means for attaining a valuable end." 
" It is now attacked for not exercising assumed power, agreeable to 
the sentiments of a small minority and contrary to the known sense 
of the people." The minority's address tries to give the public an 
"idea that the convention were studious to conceal the conduct of 
the delegates from the people of the several counties, that they pre- 
cluded themselves from the means of information, and ratified the 
proposed plan with indecent and fatal precipitation." The commit- 
tee on amendments are accused of " deceiving the minority, effect- 
ing a premature dissolution of the body, and abandoning the dearest 
rights of their constituents to an arbitary power." The purpose of 
the minority's address is to " persuade the people that the proceed- 
ings of the convention are not conclusive or binding." 

In his reply, Hanson had tried not to " agitate the great ques- 
tion already determined," first by the people in the counties and 
second by their representatives, "chosen and convened for that ex- 
press and only purpose " ; but rather to free the majority " from 
gross and unwarrantable interpretation of their conduct." The ma- 
jority may not wilfully misrepresent, but they make certain slight 
mistakes and omit material circumstances. Hanson's account is of 
great value and has been used freely in this paper. 

That the Anti-Federalists tried to induce the people to consider 
the convention's ratification as not final 1 is seen in a long article in the 
Journal of May 16, signed " Republican." He asserts that the 
" common class " of people knew little of the Constitution. The 
two thousand copies of that document printed by order of the 
Assembly were too few to go far. The Annapolis paper is of small 
circulation, and the two Baltimore ones are never seen on the East- 
ern Shore, while the severe weather during the past winter prevented 
any newspapers from being sent over thither. Of the 25,000 
voters 2 in the state, only 6000 voted at the election, and 4000 of 

1 Daniel Carroll writes to Madison, May 28, that the minority were trying to get 
signers to a memorial to the Virginia Convention, that Luther Martin said in his " tavern 
harangues that more than twenty members of the Convention favored Kingly govern- 
ment," and that Mercer maligns Daniel Carroll and " tergiversates." He regrets John- 
son's falling away from the majority. 

2 He says viva voce vote is preferred to ballot by Maryland's constitution. 



222 B. C. Steiner 

these votes were cast in Baltimore town and seven of the counties. 
The rich and wealthy worked for the Constitution to prevent the 
loss of their debts and, in some counties, the opposition had named 
no candidates. But as proof that the ratification is not final, he 
alleges that two successive general assemblies must authorize the 
adoption of the Federal Constitution, as it alters the state constitu- 
tion and so must be passed in the same manner as any other amend- 
ment. In pursuance of this thought, he urges the people to choose, 
as delegates to the coming legislature, men opposed to the adop- 
tion of the Constitution, as they will vote to amend it. The Fed- 
eralists had already taken up this matter and were especially active 
in trying to defeat Chase in Baltimore town. 1 His defenders used 
the curious argument that, when elected by Federalists in Baltimore, 
he would be bound to support Federal measures, as he had been 
to support Anti-Federal measures, when elected by Anti-Federal 
votes in Anne Arundel County. 

The Federalists did not fail to answer the claim that the ratifi- 
cation was not final. The opposition had tried to show that the 
framers of the Constitution were "vile conspirators," 2 to have the 
ratification in different form from that proposed at Philadelphia, and 
to have the convention propose amendments. Foiled in all these 
purposes, they clutch at a straw. Maryland has accepted all 
changes in her state constitution, by the convention's ratification. 
The Federalists point out that, as the other states have different 
provisions for amending their constitutions, an acceptance of the 
Anti-Federalist contention would delay the going into effect of the 
Constitution for four years or so. 

The struggle was decided by the election for delegates, in which 
the Federalists won a decided victory. The presidential electors 
and the United States Senators chosen were Federalists, and the 
people of Maryland showed that they intended their ratification of 
the Constitution to be final. The mutterings of discontent gradually 
disappeared. The Anti- Federalists welcomed the proposals 3 to 
publish the proceedings of the convention, since these would show 
how rashly the majority acted ; but, apparently, the pamphlet never 
appeared and popular interest in the subject died away. The news 
of South Carolina's ratification was greeted in Baltimore town by 
firing of cannon on Federal Hill and a dinner at Mrs. Grant's, and 

1 Maryland Journal, May 9, June IO ; Gazette, May 23, 27, June 20 
2 Journal, May 20. The Gazette, June 3, says that the changes from the Confeder- 
ation to the Constitution are in the direction of centralization and cites the omission of the 
names of states from the preamble as proof of this. 

3 Baltimore Gazette, June 3, 27 ; Journal, May 23. The price was to be 8/4; the 
reporter was Mr. Lloyd. 



Maryland 's Adoption of the Federal Constitution 223 

the same procedure was followed, with the addition of fireworks, 
when news came that the success of the Constitution was assured by 
New Hampshire's and Virginia's ratification. 1 As Maryland had be- 
gun under Hanson's able leadership, so she continued. Federal 
feeling was long active there, and the party organization and name 
were preserved in the state for years after they were discarded else- 
where. The Whig party next included the men with national feel- 
ings, and was long dominant in Maryland ; and when the dark days 
of impending disruption came, the state remained faithful to the 
Union. The foundation of her national spirit was deeply laid. 

Bernard C. Steiner. 

William Paca's Proposed Amendments. 2 

That it be declared that all Persons entrusted with the Legislative or 
Executive Powers of Government are the Trustees and Servants of the 
Public and as such accountable for their Conduct. 

Wherefore, whenever the Ends of Government are perverted and 
public Liberty manifestly endangered and all other Means of Redress are 
ineffectual, the People may, and of right ought, to object to, reform the 
old, or establish a new Government — That the Doctrine of Non-resis- 
tance against arbitrary Power and Oppression is absurd, slavish and 
destructive of the Good and Happiness of Mankind — That it be declared, 
That every Man hath a right to petition the Legislature, for the Redress 
of Grievances, in a peaceable and orderly Manner — That in all criminal 
Prosecutions every Man hath a Right to be informed of the Accusation, 
to have a Copy of the Indictment or charge in due Time (if required) 
to prepare for his Defense, to be allowed Council, to be confronted with 
the Witness against him, to have Process for his Witnesses, to examine 
the Witnesses for and against him on Oath, and to a speedy trial by an 
impartial Jury. 

That no Freeman ought to be taken, or imprisoned, or deprived of 
his Freehold, Liberties and Privileges, or outlawed or exiled, or in any 
manner destroyed or deprived of his Life, Liberty, or Property, but by 
the lawful Judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. That no 
Power of Suspending Laws, or the Execution of Laws, unless derived 
from the Legislature, ought to be exercised or allowed. 

That all Warrants, without Oath, or Affirmation of a Person con- 
scientiously scrupulous of taking an Oath, to search suspected Places, to 
seize any Person, or his Property, are grievous and oppressive ; and all 
general Warrants, to search suspected Places, or to apprehend any Per- 
son suspected, without describing the Place or Person in special, are 
dangerous and ought not to be granted. 

That there be no Appeal to the Supreme Court of Congress in a 
Criminal Case. Congress shall have no Power to alter or change the 

1 Gazette, June 3, July I. 

2 Maryland Journal, April 29, 1788. 



224 B. C. Steiner 

Regulations respecting the Times, Places or Manner of holding Elections 
for Senators or Representatives. 

All Imports and Duties laid by Congress, shall be placed to the 
Credit of the State in which the same shall be collected, and shall be de- 
ducted out of such State's Quota of the Common or general Expences of 
Government. No Member of Congress shall be eligible to any Office of 
Trust or Profit under Congress during the Time for which he shall be 
chosen. 

That there be no National Religion established by Law but that all 
Persons be equally entitled to Protection in their religious Liberty. 

That Congress shall not lay direct Taxes on Land or other Property 
without a previous Requisition of the respective Quotas of the States and 
a failing within a Limited Time to comply therewith. 

In all cases of Trespasses, Torts, Abuses of Power, personal Wrongs 
and Injuries done on Land or within the Body of a County the Party In- 
jured shall be entitled to Trial by Jury, in the State where the Offence shall 
be committed ; and the State Courts in such cases shall have concurrent 
Jurisdiction with the Federal Courts ; and there shall be no Appeal, ex- 
cepting on Matters of Law. 

That the Supreme Federal Court shall not admit of Fictions, to ex- 
tend its Jurisdiction ; nor shall Citizens of the same State, having Con- 
troversies with each other be suffered to make collusive Assignments of 
their Rights, to Citizens of another State for the Purpose of defeating the 
Jurisdiction of the State Courts; nor. shall any Matter or Question al- 
ready determined in the State Courts, be revived or agitated in the Fed- 
eral Courts ; that there be no Appeal from Law or Fact to the Supreme 
Court where the Claim or Demand does not exceed Three Hundred 
Pounds Stirling. That no standing Army shall be kept up in Time of 
Peace unless with the Consent of Three Fourths of the Members of each 
Branch of Congress : Nor shall Soldiers in Time of Peace be Quartered 
upon private Houses, without the Consent of the Owners. 

No Law of Congress or Treaties shall be effectual to repeal or abro- 
gate the Constitutions or Bills of Rights of the States or any of them or 
any part of the said Constitutions or Bills of Rights. 

[Militia not to be subject to the Rules of Congress nor marched out of 
the State without consent of the Legislature of such State. 

That Congress have no Power to lay a Poll Tax. 

That the People have a Right to Freedom of Speech, of writing and 
publishing their Sentiments and therefore that the Freedom of the Press 
ought not to be restrained and the Printing Presses ought to be free to 
examine the Proceedings of Government, and the Conduct of its Officers. 

That Congress shall exercise no Power but what is expressly delegated 
by this Constitution. 

That the President shall not command the Army, in Person, without 
the Consent of Congress.